The Inside Scoop on Being a Mom Via Egg Donation
*In the 2nd of our Real Stories Series, we talked with Cheryl, a mom of two daughters via egg donation.
I am the blessed mother of two daughers via egg donation, a journeythat began for me in 2009.
Something that is common, and heart-wrenching for me during a consultation with a prospective Intended Mother, is to hear the shame and guilt in her voice during the initial call. I recognize it because I have been there, too.
Although change is in progress, there is still a stigma around using an egg donor to help create one’s family. We feel secretive. We feel perhaps that it’s “weird,” or messing with fate, or that our female parts are somehow less than, that we as women, and possibly as mothers, may be “less than.”
Here are some of the common questions I receive from others who want the ‘Inside Scoop on Egg Donation’.
Q: Do you love them as much as you hoped you would?
YES! I don’t have biological children to compare to, but I have never loved anyone in the way that I love my daughters. As with most parents, I am deeply bonded with them, deeply related. I wouldn’t hesitate to throw myself under the bus for them. Nothing is more important to me than my girls. I am constantly amazed and amused by them. I want all the good things in life for them. I can’t imagine loving them more than I do.
Q: Do they know their story, that they came from an egg donor?
Yes. I’ve been telling them their unique story since they were growing in my womb. I tell what I believe to be an age appropriate version of the story, and it develops as they grow. In present time, their ages being 6 and 9, this is what I say:
“Mommy and Papa waited a long time to decide to have you. By the time I was ready to have children, I was older and didn’t have very many eggs left. We went to a special doctor who can help people have babies. The doctor found someone who had extra eggs that she could share. The doctor mixed them with something from Papa and they put the teeny tiny little spec inside of me. And guess what? That tiny little spot grew into you, inside of me!”
This is currently one of their favorite bedtime stories that they ask me to tell. My six year old sometimes chimes in at the end, “I’m a miracle!”
Q: Do your children look like you?
My oldest looks like a combination of her father, and my mother. Very odd, since my mother passed away seven years before Sofia was born, but they have the same eyes. My youngest has a similar body type to me, acts like me, looks like me. When I was little, I hummed when I ate meals that I liked. She hums when she eats her cheerios at breakfast. She likes to perform for us in the living room, making up songs and dances. Guess who else liked to do this, and sometimes still does? (Me☺)
Q: Does anyone ever wonder if they are not your children?
All the time! I was 48 when Sofia was born, and 51 when Michelle was born, so I am 57 now, with my 6 and 9 year old girls in tow. It has happened, at the grocery store checkout counter, at the beach, at the zoo, at the aquarium, at the playground, at the airport, at the elementary school…ummm, at the movie theater, at the pharmacy, at a restaurant…that someone mistakenly thought I was their grandmother. The worst one was the zoo. I was with their father (my husband at the time) and Sofia when she was two. I stood back to take a picture of the two of them looking at a monkey. An “elderly woman” shouted out to me, “Isn’t it great to be able to take your son and granddaughter to the zoo!?” laughing with a comrade-ish type of innocent laugh. I was mortified, shrinking away and hoping that my (yes, many years younger) husband hadn’t heard. Lord help me, I don’t think he heard, or if he did, he was kind enough to pretend that he hadn’t.
Once you have been mistaken for a grandma at the store, the zoo, the school, the airport and so forth, one begins to a. get used to it, b. get over it, c. devise great responses that help diffuse the awkward situation. Presently, I usually just loudly say, “Oh, I’m their mother, no worries, it happens ALL the time!” If there’s time and space, I may add, “I chose to be an older mom and so glad I did!”
Once in a while I can just see it coming, so I preempt it by saying, “Hi, I’m Cheryl, mother of Sofia and Michelle” to save them the embarrassment, which I no longer really feel.
Q: What if your egg donor wants to come and try to take your/her children someday?
She won’t, and she can’t. I am so grateful to her for sharing her eggs with me, it is a priceless gift. But in no way, shape or form are my daughters her daughters to have and to hold and to raise. I am their mother. I am the one who nurtures them, nourishes them, teaches them, feeds them, cuddles them, sings to them, disciplines them, shapes them, influences them on a daily basis. The egg donor gifted me with the ability to grow my daughters inside of me, and to give them a template of genetic material to grow from. I would love for my daughters to be able to find her someday, to know more about this piece of their genetic background, but to this point, she has chosen to remain anonymous. I am curious and interested in her, so if she ever changes her mind, I would be happy to know her. But she could never, and would never, take Sofia and Michelle away from my infinitely maternal arms. The law supports this.
Q: I am so overwhelmed by the process and have endured so much loss and disappointments. I wonder if the universe is trying to tell me I’m not supposed to have children?
I can’t speak for the universe, but if you really want children, I can say with a lot of confidence that it will happen. There will be bumps in the road and twists and turns you could never have imagined, but please keep looking toward your end goal. You want children. You deserve to have children. Don’t give up.
Q: Is it worth it?
Answer: Yes, they are worth every challenging step you are taking. You are worth it, and they are worth it, too.